The Russian president has warned that portable air defense systems and high-precision armaments may fall into the wrong hands.
Western weapons flowing into Ukraine have begun to make their way onto black markets, Russian President Vladimir Putin said during a meeting with the heads of security and special services of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) countries on Wednesday.
The Russian leader called on the participants of the meeting to bolster cooperation in anti-terrorism efforts and noted that there were “serious challenges” posed by the emerging black arms markets in Ukraine.
Putin claimed that “cross-border criminal groups” were actively involved in smuggling weapons to other regions and that it wasn’t just small firearms. “There is a persistent risk of criminals getting hold of more powerful weapons, including portable air defense systems and precision weapons.”
The president’s statement comes after Russia’s permanent representative to the UN, Vassily Nebenzia, warned last month that corrupt Ukrainian officials had established channels to deliver Western-supplied weapons onto the global black market.
Meanwhile, the West’s top military officials have admitted that it is nearly impossible to effectively track where the billions of dollars worth of arms delivered to Ukraine actually end up. Pentagon Inspector General Sean O’Donnell told Bloomberg in August that there was almost no fidelity as the Ukrainians still used paper “hand receipts” to trace supplied weapons.
CBS News also reported that some 70% of weapons supplied to Ukraine never make it to the front lines as they have to pass through a network of “power lords, oligarchs and political players.”
“There is really no information as to where they’re going at all,” Donatella Rovera, a senior crisis adviser with Amnesty international told the outlet, adding that it was “really worrying” that the countries supplying these weapons do not find it necessary to put in place robust oversight mechanisms.
CBS was later pressured, however, to pull the documentary and amend the story after the channel was accused of spreading “Russian propaganda.” Ukrainian presidential adviser Mikhail Podoliak has insisted there is “no proof” that weapons entering the country were unaccounted for.
Ukraine has insisted that an uninterrupted flow of Western weapons is the key to the country’s survival on the battlefield. Russia, meanwhile, has warned on multiple occasions that pumping Kiev with weapons will only prolong the conflict.